Customer service is EVERYTHING. (So much so that I even felt it appropriate to use bold, underline AND capital letters there!)
Yep, I have worked in the customer service industry since the young age of 13, where I began work at my godparent's farm shop. Various jobs later, I found myself spending 2 years at a large hotel, working my way from Waitress to Restaurant Supervisor.
The truth is, customer service can make or break someone's experience of your industry. Take the weekend for example. My Dad and I headed into town to see about getting my phone upgraded - I knew it was due in February, but kindly Vodafone hadn't bothered letting me know. Walking into the shop to see it packed with queues didn't fill us with much hope of being dealt with quickly. Nevertheless, a friendly 'Ashley' approached us pretty much upon crossing the threshold.
Greeted with a massive smile, and an informal but friendly "Are you alright there guys?" set the ball rolling. We told him what we wanted, and he promptly explained the options to me. After deciding upon the best plan, he directed us to one of the customer sales assistants towards the back of the shop. This is where the difference really was obvious.
A very chilled, cool Aziz invited us to take a seat, before getting our details up on the computer. Whilst tapping away he asked what we'd been up to, and what we had planned for the rest of the day. The conversation felt very natural and easy, like talking to an old friend.
That guy literally made our day. Probably unknowingly, but he did nonetheless.
Even after being on numerous training courses I still believe customer service is something that can't be taught. Sure, the company policy can be drilled into you, but no one can teach you how to conduct a friendly, free-flowing conversation with a customer. No one can teach you how to reassure someone and put them at ease. These are traits which come naturally. I mean, you can practice them, and as you grow with confidence they may improve, but ultimately it's something that comes from within.